Dreadball is NOT a Bloodbowl clone!

If you’re a fan of Warhammer, you’ve heard of Bloodbowl. If you haven’t, here’s the quick and easy: Bloodbowl is a funny little game, based around American football but using armies from the Warhammer Fantasy setting such as goblins, orcs, vampires, empire, lizardmen and even more obscure races such as halflings and amazons. It differs from a more conventional sports themed game in the use underhanded tactics (essentially cheating, often violently).

It’s a game about holographic spoons and manly hugging.

Dreadball is quite similar to this, and on first look may appear to be the same basic idea, but let’s examine this for a moment while I try my best to convince you that Dreadball is going to be the bestest thing ever since the last best thing ever (beard armour!).

First off, and most notably, Dreadball doesn’t use a fantasy setting. Rather than drawing from the successful Kings of War, Dreadball is set inside the Warpath universe and players can play as any of the existing armies: corporation, forge fathers, ver-myn and marauders.

The humans look like a cross-between Tron and a Space Marine, and the orx look like… well… orcs!

Secondly, the game itself is not American football, it’s closer in style to Speedball, a game that is something like a mesh between American football and soccer (or as us Brits call it REAL football). Developer Jake Thornton describes it as being closer to lacrosse or hockey.

Thirdly, it plays faster. Once more quoting Jake Thornton, Dreadball differs from Bloodbowl in that there’s no reset when a strike is made. Play pretty much picks up from where it is at that point rather than everything needing to be neatly repositioned like in Bloodbowl. This interests me quite a bit. It’s clearly a very tactical game (not to say Bloodbowl isn’t), and you’ll need to be thinking ahead if you don’t want to end up trading goals for the entirety of the game.

The board is simple, colourful, and soon to be covered in blood.

Lastly… it looks so shiny! Mantic have deliberately veered away from the more conventionally dark and gloomy look that Warhammer has championed for so long. Warpath’s universe isn’t entirely devoid of grit, but Dreadball looks like a cheerful game, with visuals that remind me of some of the designs from Mass Effect, and certainly Tron in particular.

Perhaps the most important thing is that Mantic are making the claim that there will be a big community for the game when it’s out and that there will be tournaments left, right and centre. That’s a very bold claim, and speaking as someone who has yet to see anyone at my local club touch a Mantic game with a bargepole… I really hope they’re right about this, because if so you can bet I’ll be getting reviving my inner space dwarf for a nice, friendly game of “kneecap the other team”.

Forgeward unto victory!

Is it just me or is the Forge Father in the back left RAWKING OUT, DUDE?

I should definitely point you in the direction of Dreadball’s kickstarter because it’s offering some awesome deals. Not only that, but I stole most of my images from them, so I do kind of owe them that much.

I’d also check out Jake Thornton’s blog, and this post in particular as it offers a great deal of information on the game and how it is played. We also appear to have the exact same blog theme, which I assure you is entirely a coincidence. Great minds, maybe? No? Worth a try.

(Just to point out, I did say I would have an update regarding my Forge Fathers, but unfortunately they’re having to take a back seat for the time being. I’ve recently signed up for a Warmachine/Hordes tournament, and I’m eager to break out the trolls again. More on that soon!)

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About A. R. Whitehead

I'm an aspiring author, with a degree in English and Creative Writing. I love books, comics, games and film. My favourite genres are Science Fiction and Fantasy.
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